Public Access Computer Workstations (page 26) from Chapter 4 "Public Services" in Federal Depository Library Handbook (1/2008)
"Public access computer workstations may require user authentication for security reasons; however, signage (on computers, posted at tables, on desks) MUST indicate that users may inquire at the public service desk for assistance.
Libraries may provide guests the ability to log in at a workstation or staff may log them in at authenticated stations. At a minimum, if all workstations providing Internet access require authentication, users should be directed to public service desks for assistance through mediated searching.
Time limits and the use of sign-up sheets are acceptable but should be no more severe than such measures used for non-depository workstation access.
The language on public workstations, web pages, and signage should promote access to government information rather than dissuading or limiting access."
In light of recent communications regarding authentication of patron identification on library computers, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) would like to take this opportunity to address some of the common security issues we are seeing more frequently in depository libraries.
The overall goal of the depository program is to provide the public no-fee access to U.S. Government information regardless of format. That said, GPO recognizes the necessity of securing computer networks.
Balancing the need for network security and no-fee access to depository electronic information can be accomplished. For libraries that utilize log-ins or authentication, the Federal Depository Library Handbook <http://www.fdlp.gov/handbook/index.html> states,
"Libraries may provide guests the ability to log-in at a workstation or staff may log them in at authenticated stations. At a minimum, if all workstations providing Internet access require authentication, users should be directed to public service desks for assistance through mediated searching."
On a similar thread, libraries that employ filters, "must allow users the option to use workstations without filtering software or provide the capability of turning off the filter while users are searching FDLP information resources... At a minimum, if your library is unable to deactivate filtering in a rapid manner, you must provide mediated searching for depository users."
Keep in mind that language on public workstations, Web pages, and signage should promote access to government information rather than dissuading or limiting access.
As technologies evolve, the depository community and GPO will continue to work together to find that balance point between library user needs and network security requirements.
For additional information, please see:
* Federal Depository Library Handbook, Chapter 4. Public Services
* FDLP Internet Use Policy
* Depository Library Public Service Guidelines for Government Information in Electronic Formats
If you would like to discuss your library's situation with GPO, please feel free to contact us at (202) 512-1119.
Identification Issues in Depository Libraries Reviewed (4/15/03)
Assuring Free Public Access to Federal Government Information Admin Notes (4/15/03)
FDLP Internet Use Policy Guidelines (1998 rev 3/2003)
Instructions to Depository Libraries Revised 2000 -- Public Access (superseded by Federal Depository Library Handbook)
Depository Library Public Service Guidelines For Government Information in Electronic Formats (9/15/98)
CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act)
Information from the American Library Association on CALEA and libraries